PHILADELPHIA, July 15, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Hemispherx Biopharma, Inc. (NYSE MKT:HEB) (the "Company" or "Hemispherx") announces that they have submitted an application for orphan drug designation to the European Medicines Agency (EMA) for Alferon N Injection®, an experimental therapeutic, to treat Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS). The EMA has determined the application to be valid, and the Committee for Orphan Medicinal Products (COMP) has initiated the official review process. It is anticipated that the COMP will give an opinion on the application within the next 90 days. There are significant benefits for achieving Orphan Designation, including eligibility for grants from EU and Member State programs. Designated orphan medicines are assessed for marketing authorization centrally in the European Union with reductions/waivers in the fees and costs of the overall regulatory process. The designation allows companies to make a single application to the European Medicines Agency, resulting in a single opinion and a single decision from the European Commission, valid in all EU Member States. Authorized orphan medications, once commercially approved, receive benefits including ten years of complete protection from market competition with similar medicines.
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Fact Sheet on the CDC website, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) was first identified in Saudi Arabia in 2012, and is an illness caused by a coronavirus known as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV). Infection can cause severe acute respiratory illness with symptoms of fever, cough, and shortness of breath as well as death. Some people infected developed pneumonia and experienced gastrointestinal symptoms including diarrhea, nausea/vomiting, and kidney failure. MERS has a fatality rate of 38% and the mean time from onset to death is 12 days.
Recent Hemispherx collaborations with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), specifically National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID), using human cells in culture, suggest that Alferon® N may be effective either as a preventative and/or treatment of early MERS infection (http://www.hemispherx.net/content/investor/default.asp?goto=781). Similar positive inhibitory results with Alferon® N were obtained at the University of Texas (http://www.hemispherx.net/content/investor/default.asp?goto=786).
MERS-CoV and SARS-CoV are members of the same coronavirus family. Only MERS and SARS have high mortality rates in man as the other four human coronavirus family members are generally associated with mild, non-life-threatening, common cold symptoms. Only the MERS and SARS viruses inhibit the production of a key component of human immunity, IFN. IFNs have been previously established as useful to fight off a number of otherwise lethal viral infections. Hemispherx scientists have also conducted a medical literature survey of candidate MERS pharmaceuticals, focusing on interferons (IFNs) and inducers thereof. A comparison of drug sensitivity of a wide spectrum of clinically approved antiviral drugs including Alferon® against SARS-CoV by an independent research group in Singapore showed Alferon® to be among the most active in vitro antiviral agents (Tan EL, et al. Emerg Infect Dis. 2004;10(4):581-6).
About Alferon® N
Alferon® N is the only natural source, multi-species alpha interferon currently approved for sale in the U.S. Alferon® N is approved in the U.S. only for the treatment of refractory or recurring external genital warts caused by human papilloma virus in patients 18 years of age or older.
About Hemispherx Biopharma
Hemispherx Biopharma, Inc. is an advanced specialty pharmaceutical company engaged in the manufacture and clinical development of new drug entities ("biological modifiers") for treatment of seriously debilitating disorders especially life-threatening viruses. Hemispherx's flagship products include Alferon® N Injection® and the experimental therapeutics Ampligen® and Alferon® LDO. Ampligen® is an experimental RNA nucleic acid being developed for globally important debilitating diseases and disorders of the immune system, including Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Hemispherx's platform technology includes components for potential treatment of various severely debilitating and life threatening diseases including cancers. Because both Ampligen® and Alferon® LDO are experimental in nature, they are not designated safe and effective by a regulatory authority for general use and are legally available only through clinical trials. Hemispherx has patents comprising its core intellectual property estate and a fully commercialized product (Alferon® N Injection®), approved for sale in the U.S. and Argentina. The FDA approval of Alferon® N Injection® is limited to the treatment of refractory or recurrent external genital warts in patients 18 years of age or older. The Company's Alferon N Injection® approval in Argentina includes the use of Alferon N Injection® (under the brand name "Naturaferon") for use in any patients who fail, or become intolerant to recombinant interferon, including patients with chronic active hepatitis C infection. The Company wholly owns and exclusively operates a GMP certified manufacturing facility in the United States for commercial products. For more information please visit www.hemispherx.net.
Information contained in this news release, other than historical information, should be considered forward-looking and is subject to various risk factors and uncertainties. For instance, the strategies and operations of Hemispherx involve risk of competition, changing market conditions, changes in laws and regulations affecting these industries and numerous other factors discussed in this release and in the Company's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. The final results of these efforts could vary materially from Hemispherx's expectations. Findings from animal studies may not correlate with results from humans. Clinical trial data will be necessary to establish human efficacy of Alferon® for MERS.
To the extent that statements in this press release are not strictly historical, all such statements are forward-looking, and are made pursuant to the safe harbor provisions of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Words such as "intends," "plans," and similar expressions are intended to identify forward-looking statements. The inclusion of forward-looking statements should not be regarded as a representation by Hemispherx that any of its plans will be achieved. These forward-looking statements are neither promises nor guarantees of future performance, and are subject to a variety of risks and uncertainties, many of which are beyond Hemispherx's control, which could cause actual results to differ materially from those contemplated in these forward-looking statements. Examples of such risks and uncertainties include those set forth in the Disclosure Notice, above, as well as the risks described in Hemispherx's filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including the most recent reports on Forms 10-K, 10-Q and 8-K. You are cautioned not to place undue reliance on these forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date hereof, and Hemispherx undertakes no obligation to update or revise the information contained in this press release, whether as a result of new information, future events or circumstances or otherwise revise or update this release to reflect events or circumstances after the date hereof. No evidence is suggested that Alferon® N, Alferon® LDO and/or Ampligen® will ever be commercially approved for the new potential treatment indications mentioned in this release.
CONTACT: Company/Investor Contact Charles Jones CJones & Associates Public Relations Office: 888-557-6480 Cell: 305-987-7418 Email: email@example.comSource:Hemispherx Biopharma, Inc.